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Barely two months after announcing in Abuja that it will start refusing the application of banks for foreign software purchases because of the drain on the nation’s foreign exchange reserves, the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), has failed to implement the policy.
Checks by Business Hilights on the origin of several software applications used to power recent technology innovations in many banks showed that they were largely foreign and India in particular.
The Director-General of NOTAP, Dr. Dan-Azumi Ibrahim, had towards the end of June vowed to block approvals to banks, seeking to overrun local inventors to buy software aboard, but nothing tangible has come out of the policy announcement till date.
Findings via undercover investigations by our correspondents on origins of software used by mostly new generation banks (names with held) in running either their new digital payment products and related systems showed that no one was acquired within Nigeria at a time many software developers are looking for markets to sell their products.
As at June, Dr. Ibrahim, during the presentation of patent certificates to some institutions, had disclosed that NOTAP is already putting finishing touches to its plans to have local developed banking applications serve as an alternative to the massive capital flights on Indian made.
According to him, “We are already working in partnership with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to have Nigerians develop banking applications. Once we are done, we will start refusing the application of banks for foreign software purchases”.
NOTAP boss believes Banks are the biggest consumers of software in Nigeria, noting that four out of five items in software are on banking applications.
He said “This is our target. If we are able to develop banking applications by ourselves, we should be able to reduce if not replace foreign software consumption”.
In his further submission, he averred that some banks are ready to spend up to $20million for just one software and therefore urged Nigerian software developers to invest more on banking applications that will meet the acceptable standard capable of saving a lot of foreign exchange for the country.
Speaking on the issue, a financial software developer in Lagos, Mr. Johnson Ogbonna said Nigerian software developers have all it takes to develop what is superior to Indian and South Korean products, but many banks prefer foreign ones due to safety and security concerns.
He blamed the inactivity of NOTAP to encourage sales of local software by way of providing incentives for them to increase research and also working on the psyche of banks and other financial institutions to look their way when they need software.
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